More than 125 retired Western Carolina University faculty and staff members and their spouses and partners participated in the inaugural meeting of the WCU Association of Retired Faculty and Staff on Tuesday, June 25, at Ramsey Regional Activity Center.
After 10 months of planning, surveys and the creation of a retired faculty and staff listserv, inaugural members drove from North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia to enjoy a reception, brief business meeting, Dutch treat luncheon and remarks from Chancellor David O. Belcher.
Belcher congratulated leaders and members of the association for wanting to stay in touch and involved with the university and with each other. He also shared in his remarks WCU’s major developments, significant accomplishments and future plans.
Retirement associations are common at major universities, and the association’s planning committee researched similar groups across the country before starting the WCU organization.
At the meeting, Gordon Mercer, professor emeritus of political science and the newly elected president of the association, presented bylaws developed by the group’s planning committee. The document outlined the purpose of the association as promoting the mutual interests of WCU and retired faculty and staff through regular meetings, communication and activities.
Mercer reminded attendees that many of their ideas and the programs that they worked on or started before retiring helped build the current university, and pointed out that the association will provide a vital link between them and WCU.
Fred Hinson, former vice chancellor for academic affairs and the association’s newly elected president-elect, said good attendance at the inaugural gathering indicated that the association is meeting an important need.
Michael Dougherty, retired dean of the College of Education and Allied Professions, said the event’s strong turnout signified that many former employees believe they made a difference at WCU and have a desire to maintain a strong and positive relationship.
Norma Clayton, a WCU alumna who worked at WCU for 35 years, said she not only valued the time to visit with friends and former colleagues, but also was particularly excited to hear more about the WCU’s positive developments and future vision from Belcher.
“I personally cannot say enough good things about Dr. Belcher,” said Clayton “His enthusiasm, his vision for Western and Western’s interaction with the community makes me want to support Western.”
Gayle Miller, a retired professor from the English department, said she also appreciated the chancellor’s update and the chance to reconnect with colleagues. “I once again feel part of the university that meant so much to me,” she said.
Wanda Ashe, who worked with the Graduate School and Research, concurred, adding that the experience also left her proud to be a part of WCU.
Also at the event, Bill Ogletree, professor and head of the communication sciences and disorders department, and his daughter, Sarah Ogletree, played bluegrass and mountain music. In addition, the association elected Karen Nicholson as secretary and Carol Martin-Vegue as treasurer in addition to electing 15 executive committee members.
The next meeting will be held at a date to be announced in October or early November. Details will be coordinated and announced by the association’s officers and executive committee.
For more information or to add a name to the association’s mailing list or electronic listserve, contact Mercer at 828-369-2693 or Hinson at 828-293-5620.